After a couple of failed attempts to put up blog posts on my ipad and having limited time in dressing rooms on wi-fi I decided to wait until I got home to share this. My hands are a little shaky and I’m in need of a few more hours sleep but I decided to write it while it was fresh (Please excuse mistakes!)
Tales from the Tour bus with Gum and Ringo Deathstarr:
So after picking up all concerned and loading the van we set off. Unfortunately we are stuck on the road for hours longer than anticipated in traffic (the tour bus becoming a prison of excruciating heat). At stationary moments the door was rolled open for essential air and to the bemusement of neighbouring cars that caught a glimpse of the sweating passengers previously hidden behind the tinted windows. It may have also had something to do with the pumping volume of A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord (Sorry Gum, my choice) which was coming out of the surprisingly decent speakers. We sweated forward, barely making the Euro tunnel and set off for the first leg of the European tour. As soon as we got to Calais we were cooking on gas and sped through France to Belgium.
We arrived at Bruges at dusk and got to enjoy a few fine local beers that unlike the British equivalents were strong but very drinkable. The place was beautifully Gothic and it was a real treat to spend a few hours there. Stocked up on tasty Belgium flavours of Lays (the Mozzarella and Pesto were a real culinary delight! Or the closest we got to one…) we drove through the night to head for Copenhagen.
The Stengarde was a very cool and characteristic venue and was covered in graffiti inside and out as if it was inked with tattoos. It was the kind of place you’d find in East London and the situation became very real and exciting as we loaded the gear onstage. After sound check we drove over to Christiania which we were told was a hippie commune that was still around from the 70’s. The place felt like Camden market mixed with Never Never land from Hook and was a very surreal experience. People still live there and drug dealers were openly selling hash on stands inside. We wandered into an area called the Green Light zone where we found middle aged hippies who sat around smoking weed (seemingly there since the 70’s) untouched by the outside world. It would have made a pretty interesting documentary interviewing these locals but photography was banned inside.
I had a bit of time before the gig started to accidentally blow all of my Danish Krone at the supermarket on Port which I thought was worth £2 (it wasn’t), then back to the Stengarde.
First up is local Danish indie dance troubadours The Foreign Resort. No strangers to Ringo Deathstarr, the four piece have played with them on four occasions before. There’s an impressive turnout considering they are the first on and their mix of early noughties Soulwax infused indie is well received. Bassist Patrick Ryming looks like a young Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers and this affection for glam is reflected in a sound that owes a lot to early Killers and The Bravery. It’s a tight set and their experience of rigorous touring shows.
Gum take to the stage next and there’s an atmosphere of nervous excitement in the venue. This is the first time the band have toured outside of the UK and are promoting their ep Seventeen which is released through Tiny Lights.
Opener ‘Skeleton’ is an excellent introduction to the band to any uninitiated inside the packed Stengarde. New drummer Nick’s drums crash and tumble amidst jess’ driving bass. The woozy lead guitar played by Chris sits perfectly alongside Grant’s rushy vocals. It’s an exercise in Shoegaze perfection and a killer statement of intent. Single ‘Anna Sang and Alison’ goes down very well and sounds massive tonight.
The band plays a variety of tracks from Seventeen and some new ones. Jess fronts new song ‘You Dare Hunt Me’ which adds a new dynamic to their sound. The Sonic Youth influence is apparent and it’s executed with scuzzy brilliance.
Gum save the most instant and explosive until last with ‘Cherryade’. It’s the sound of warm nostalgia and it absolutely goes off inside the Stengarde. The foursome produce a massive wall of sound: Chris’ guitars howl; nick hammers furiously, its arena sized music for a pint sized venue and builds and builds to a furious finale. Fans are left beckoning for more and it’s a brilliant start to the tour.
Ringo Deathstarr play to a packed out crowd with everyone eagerly cramming inside to see the Texan noise pop heavyweights. They are in a jovial mood, jesting with the crowd before hurtling through a ferocious set that hits hard and doesn’t relent. They play with such urgency that not a second feels wasted.
It’s equal parts surfy garage rock, with titanic Low fi Death From Above scuzz. Bassist Alex and guitarist Elliott switch vocal duties between tracks, sometimes having the airy dream pop sensibilities of the Dum Dum girls or Frankie Rose and then sounding like the Pains of Being Pure At Heart at their most colossal.
‘Rip’ sounds absolutely enormous with Daniel’s thunderous drumming, Alex’s muddy bass and Elliott’s ferocious guitar sound amid the soaring female vocals.
The headliners smash it and everyone is on a massive high after the show.
After a chat with the Foreign Resort and a few of the locals it’s back in the van to drive through the night to Amsterdam. We make good time and arrive at The Paradiso to be told that Chic (you know those disco guys) will be playing the same night and to stay well away from them and their VIP room or they will cut our balls off. Nice. Resisting the temptation to sneak into their dressing room and write ‘Disco Sucks’ on the mirror we unload the van and the band sound check.
I took up camp on the merch stand at the back for the show and was visited constantly by really friendly Dutch fans which was really nice (People bought some stuff too).
Despite the early half seven start, Gum play a scorching set to a busy crowd inside the Paradiso. ‘Over’ is a real highlight and drops like Smashing Pumpkins in their prime. Guitars are nasty and distorted and the duel boy/girl vocals sail over the top beautifully.
‘Silver’ washes over the skull like a hit of codeine with a sound both echoey and haunting; Chris’ lead guitar warping and melting into Grant’s delayed vocals. The song has an amazing outro that sounds as if the guitar has somehow been played underwater. It’s trippy and eerie in the same way as Nirvana’s ‘Lithium’.
The set goes down a hit with the crowd. One young man Steve told a delighted Chris that he has seen My Bloody Valentine a couple of weeks before and Gum packed more of a punch (Steve would later join us for an adventurous evening through the streets of Amsterdam).
Ringo Deathstarr play another devastatingly massive set and me and Chris are left mouths agape watching from the back.
I hurriedly pack the merch, the band load the van and then it’s off into the city for a Saturday night in Amsterdam. What follows can only be described as mind bending insanity and all thoughts of the 7am departure in the van go out the window as us, Ringo Deathstarr and our hero host Steve wander the streets under neon lights with giant grins on our faces.
We return to the van at 5 for some shut eye and to try and get straightened up before setting off again. I close my eyes and know that they will never un-see the visions that masqueraded before them in those few twisted hours.
7am. We wake slowly and it dawns on us. The realisation that we are missing one of our party is truly terrifying.
Where is he?
Is he safe?
He’s in a T-shirt and shorts and there’s a storm outside.
“Let’s call him”, “His phone’s here… and his passport is here as well!”
We have to leave shortly as we can’t miss the Euro Tunnel back to London. The idea of leaving a man behind is too horrendous to imagine and we are all spinning out.
Miraculously he appears. We are elated.
Life is good again and with Ringo Deathstarr following us we are back on the road. Unlike our previous experience with the Euro Star we arrive with time to spare and weave our way through a drizzly London to arrive at The Lexington.
Unfortunately this signals the end for me. With a lump in my throat I make the swiftest of goodbyes and set off. I just about manage not to nod off on the train from St Pancras back to Brighton and walk home in the torrential hail. Lying in bed I think about all I’ve seen on the road in just a few short days. My friends felt like family and the bus my home. It was so short but these are memories that will stay with me forever. I feel glum that it’s over but when I wake there’s a comfort in knowing my friends are still out there, and for them the adventure has just begun.
Stay tuned for my on the road playlist with the band. It’s a mixture to say the least!